How to Take Advantage of Skidmore's Student Opportunity Funds
This winter, Skidmore will sponsor a surge of student-initiated projects through the various funding opportunities available on campus. Each winter and summer break, the college stipulates that funds be allocated for students who wish to partake in projects, research, internships or to attend conferences. Four students were fortunate enough to receive the Student Opportunity Funds for the upcoming winter break, in order to work on a range of projects that they designed themselves.
The Student Opportunity Funds, administered by the Dean of Student Affairs, are provided by donors and alumni of the college and by President Glotzbach. The funds offer grants in supportmof worthwhile student co-curricular and leadership initiatives, after a rigorous selection process. Grants may be used to defray the costs of research materials and supplies, for travel to a site critical to the project's completion, for attending a conference and for preparing project results for publication or display.
The funds, also offered during the period of a semester, typically range from $200 to $500, depending on the type of project sponsored and the student-grantee’s specific needs. Students applying for the funds, therefore, are required to submit a detailed budget plan along with their application.
Erin J. Mah, one of the recipients of the fund, will be embarking on a project as a part of her political science senior thesis. Erin will be conducting research to investigate the media’s priming effects on public opinion in Florida and Georgia following Hurricane Michael.
“Because I want to geo-target participants who live in areas that were adversely affected by Hurricane Michael, I designed a survey and will be advertising it using paid Facebook advertisements in zip code areas that are designated by FEMA as assistance eligible areas,” Erin said.
This is where the Student Opportunity Funds come in. Erin will be able to run her paid Facebook advertisements for a number of weeks through this financial backing, which she says will contribute significantly to her research.
Erin also talked about her process of applying for the funding, which she described as a breeze.
“It was pretty straightforward,” she quipped. “I was kept in the loop of the application deadline via emails that were sent out to students.”
Erin had sufficient time to prepare and perfect her application and was also able to consult with her thesis faculty advisor before submitting the finished product.
Like Erin, this winter break will also see Anna Tsaligo take her senior thesis project in psychology a step further.
“I am conducting an experiment titled ‘Effectiveness of a Group Gratitude Intervention in Older Adults’ and this funding helped me compensate for fifty of the participants who attended the group gratitude intervention sessions that I organized,” she said.
In addition to funding provided by the school, the Student Government Association (SGA) also offers several funding options. According to SGA President Max Fleischman, the two most applied-to funds that SGA provides are the Jamienne S. Studely (JSS) Activist Fund, which sponsors student projects related to civic engagement and activism, and the Academic Pursuit Fund (APF), which assists in funding extracurricular academic projects such as scholarly research and academic conferences.
Fleischman pointed out that SGA also offers a host of funds that are unfortunately underutilized by the majority of students on campus. These funds include the Out of Classroom Discussion Fund (OCDF) and the Student Life Improvement Fund (SLIF).
“The OCDF provides students with the opportunity to meet and converse with faculty outside the classroom for coffee or over a meal. The SLIF, which, to my knowledge has never been used, exists for students to propose a one-time cost initiative,” explained Fleischman, adding that “Earlier in the year, a group of students approached us to request for the SLIF to build a hot tub in Northwoods but did not end up following through on it.”
As the semester comes to a close, a number of posters have appeared on walls and pillars across campus advertising SGA funds that are available for students to make the most use of. In recent years, it is clear that SGA has been especially diligent in trying to enhance its support of student projects, with Fleischman urging students with questions to stop by the SGA offices at any time.
Looking ahead, the summer break will also see an influx of new funding opportunities that offer larger stipends and cover more diverse areas of interest, such as the SEE Beyond award. Till then, however, the way information about these funding opportunities is relayed to students should be improved, so that students are kept in the loop about funds that are readily available to them.